World

Belarusian leader defies Kremlin, warns it may opt out of Russia-dominated economic alliance

New cracks have emerged in a Russia-led economic alliance, with the president of Belarus warning that his nation may opt out of it.

Alexander Lukashenko also sternly warned Moscow Thursday that his nation of 10 million will never be part of the "Russian world," a term coined by the Kremlin that reflects its hopes to pull ex-Soviet nations closer into its orbit.

Lukashenko, who has been at the helm since 1994, has relied on Russia's economic subsidies and political support but bristled at Moscow's attempts to expand its control over Belarusian assets.

Last month, he accused Moscow of damaging Belarus' economic interests with moves to restrict exports to Russia, which he said violated the rules of the Eurasian Economic Union, a grouping that comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.